Nesting

Chicago Pile-1

We have discussed earlier that the squash court at the University of Chicago offered the site of the first successful critical nuclear reaction in 1942 — thus implying a genealogical link between the material specificity of a sporting space and that required for this most uncertain of laboratory experiments. Chicago Pile-1, the mound of graphite bricks and wooden timbers that constituted the first nuclear reactor, found itself nested neatly within the squash court, the only place on campus with thick enough walls and a sufficiently elevated ceiling to house the experiment.

But it bears keeping in mind that a second architectural nesting takes place, the squash court proper being located underneath the bleachers at Stagg Field football stadium. In other words, the form of the stadium offered the space for a squash court, which thereafter offered space for Enrico Fermi and the Manhattan Project team members.

Put differently, a particular energetic system that is the football game becomes sufficiently popular when "converted" to or "expressed" as a semiosis that there is sufficient demand for larger-scale bleacher seating to be constructed. A new self-contained energetic system emerges in this fold: two bodies orbiting around a tiny rubber part-subject that pings around the concrete bunker, perhaps an allegorical metastability for the rupture that is to come.

Chicago Pile-1

Injection Moulding

injection moulding

We speak often of the relative rigidity of late modern sports, of the hard lines that constitute their disciplinary diagrams and rigorous production of athletic bodies and somewhat statistically-determinate "uncertain" outcomes. We are aware that these lines are in fact legislated as planes and that the sporting space is usually regulated as a volume rather than strictly a spectacular surface.

But it bears remembering that if the stadium is the factory of postmodern sporting production, then it is a certain plasticity which allows one form of assembly to substitute for another on the production line. Put differently, if the NFL is so easily able to transfer production to Wembley Stadium in London, or the FA is likewise able to travel to Washington for production at RFK, it is not only due to a relative congruity or topology between the rectangles that constitute gridiron and association football codes, respectively, but also to certain malleabilities in material and discursive space.

That turfgrass grows sufficiently long for it to be mowed and erase the very "painterly" conditions that govern production in other forms of sporting assembly, for example, is highly relevant to this modularity — an artificial green ecology in the service of a plastic injection moulding called sporting spectacle. And the televisual possibilities of programmed camera angles, intensive lighting, overlay graphics and audio commentary to constitute a coherent and consistent sporting narrative from anywhere in the world only adds to this plastic capability.

Indeed, what is most potentially intractable in this calculation of malleability is the plasticity of the live crowd in attendance at the factory. To what degree can this fleshy thirdness between sporting capital and televisual spectator mediate and suture together the filaments of an experience both synthetically fibrous and viscerally empirical? This is what is at stake in the economic decision to produce or shut down in non-local contexts under the contemporary conditions of plasticity.

__________

(thank you to amy for reminding me about "craptacular" or substandard production under certain plastic conditions. ;)

on accelerating

iBolt (No.22)

on the surface it seems profoundly anti-"ecological" (to use a term floating around right now) to go wholesale into an acceleration: ecologies are more profoundly periods of stillness mixed with accelerations. the latter are very traumatic, especially when considered intensively — childbirth is an acceleration of sorts, in which the "speed" and "distance" involved don't seem like much, and yet are extremely traumatic in both material and psychic senses (and we could include the traumas of other accelerations, such as returning from space travel, car accidents, the fall of the Berlin Wall, etc. etc.).

what sort of ruptures, tears and detachments would be implied in an accelerationism at the planetary level?

before this technical infrastructure was "turned on", so to speak, i'd love to know more about the ontological, epistemological and ethical problems entailed — for example, collaborative decision-making which is shot through by speed and its intensified fragmentation of part-knowledges and part-subjects.

since it wouldn't be animals, rocks or other "objects" creating these technical infrastructures it seems fair to ask these questions even if they seem a little "humanist" in the process.

 

Speeedd

 

in the meantime, can we start more simply by "training" for an accelerationist world, not unlike how a world-class sprinter would do: by dialing up tempo and intensity incrementally, learning how to endure, speeding up and slowing down "schizostrategically" (to use joseph's term), allowing traumas (muscular, psychic, relational) to heal more readily, all while preparing for the "big race" — even if we don't know what or when said race is, or if it is for a people to come?

__________

(thoughts that have been gestating for a while, and which have only "accelerated" since reading nick srnicek and alex williams' #accelerate manifesto and mckenzie wark's response a few weeks ago.)

help side

help side
[help side defence,
or the tactile recalibration of peripheral vision,
or the hands of the clock at 13h50 -- just past high noon.]

 

left hand

"The faster we go, the more we look ahead in anticipation and lose our lateral vision."

(Paul Virilio, The Administration of Fear, p.36)

 

right hand

"Whiteness as blindness, as third type of blindness in which one sees with one's eyes open to the world, yet sees nothing. Not the absence of light and the consequent darkness that renders one incapable of seeing, nor the total intensification of light on the retinal receptors such that one is blinded by its sheer intensity and has a visceral reaction, which forces a closure of the eyes to get relief from the pain (as when looking at a sunny sky after being in a dark room). But a visible sightlessness that Antony Gormley helps us perceive, a third type of blindness in which one listens and touches, in which objects emerge from the white fog of chaos only at the penultimate moment of proximity."

(sportsbabel, june 2012)

 

a recursive game of prisoner's dilemma

The problem is not, as Bertrand Richard suggests in conversation with Paul Virilio, "that we still want even more speed and instantaneity." It is rather that we cannot afford to slow down, that we do not want to be left behind. The problem of speed thus becomes the inverse of the problem of exodus, except that we are describing an exodus from the hyperlinearity of time.

And as a question of praxis, we borrow from Paolo Virno to suggest a gradual move from a determined problem: keep pace or fall behind, to a totally different problem: how to realize the tempos available or at hand and to experience forms of self-expression that perhaps belie these temporal qualities and/or release differential energies.

hospitality: scrabble (letter to: a young ingrid, too)

listening well?

hola!

tip this tot

posh halo host
(pity tosh hostility)
a sop toast//shot spilt,
spit sip pay pal sap
spy pita split lisp,
say hip hop hit list
stilt pithy sith styl

sit potty pail top
shitty                        (the nth gift)
sat shat splat at
total hospital soap to
it toy shop

plato thot path lay
shit
pi stat ploy spay
post-italy lit

~

i plait
posit pli polity
toil thy oat soil plot so
soy patty lips
salt, ail, oil . . .
ah, (d)'lish                        (digest this)

hail tap lash his
pho pasty tips postal
hot pot hospitality

~

lost ails shalt
lop asp tail

shoal slip
ship sail.

 

ttyl,
hatt

ooo

walking is knowing (or, where it all began)

art\'n\'leather

(short ambulatory notes concerning longer ambulatory thoughts…)

 

kalverstraat
no matter where one spins in amsterdam, all roads lead to kalverstraat. the sucking sound you hear is the capture of "psychogeographical" drifts by a canalization of flows that has biogrammed from water to land. tourists and travellers alike may wander and wander and yet still find themselves emerging into this tight pedestrian corridor with its heavy flows and flashy storefronts. the sucking sound is doubled: it is also the money flowing out of collective pockets, from one drain to another. and doubled again: perhaps not the sound of money flowing out to consumption now, but rather its haunting forebear, which presents the street as a series of volumetric television commercials corresponding through brand semiotics to some future purchase in a more diffused breathing space. the second sucking sound is faint to our ears, then, since it is expressed in thinner air—from canal to liquid spectacle to mist.

kalverstraat is also good for gait surfing.

 

nassaukade
large grids meet "circles" (and their tiny grids within) at nassaukade. the wandering lines of the canal force their way onto land as gentle waves, channeling walkways, streets, bike paths and building facades. these wavy contours open peculiar spaces—somewhat straight, somewhat curvilinear—which for now fashion themselves as parking lots, tiny parks or bike racks. this is a space of transition for the walker, from the teeming and vortical fluxes of centrum to the more aerated grids of the inner suburbs, and back again. and forth, again: in terms of spacing operations we are discussing relatively smooth and relatively striated, but rather than a twisting passage of holey space between the two we have the multiple switches of the amsterdam traffic lights to meter the variegaited flows.

 

centrum
with the large windows that seem to invite a sort of exhibitionism or voyeurism at every turn, it might be easy to view amsterdam and its centrum as a particular geometry of glass and gaze, lines of sight in which all subjects have their moments of greater or lesser exposure. likewise, as the turns and turns of the downtown core vibrate in slow sympathy with the canals and ocean beyond, it may feel like a body is always in the process of falling forward or being thrust into the next movement. but perhaps we are forgetting about the sonorous—the musical ringing of bells that seems to unite vision with gesture and delicately fill in all those tiny aporias of perception, volumetrically. church bells to mark time, tram bells to mark space, bicycle bells to negotiate relation at variable tempos: the melodies always seem to be coming from somewhere else, and yet their tiny shocks are what suture together passage and experience as one moves through this peculiar city. one wonders how spinoza the lens grinder listened as he walked the city streets.

 

oud-west
even if one isn't consciously seeking to purchase frequently as a traveller to amsterdam, consumption ends up meaning regular dealings in cash—perhaps moreso than when one is more firmly routinized at whatever contingency is called home, where its electronic transactions incur less of an economic burden in fees concerning permission to spend. this also means the eventual accumulation of coins in the pockets of those jeans or shorts or jackets which repetitively get their traveller's due. the accumulation is a weight worn, or borne: it doesn't take much before one notices a slight tweak in walking motion, a rubbing here or a slight heaviness there that imperceptibly modulates the musculoskeletal system. how do these subtle differences affect one's gait, one's walking through the city and the tiny eddies that fluidly swirl in the wake, microturbulent yet slightly askew from one's normative mode of ambulance? how do the gaited butterflies flap their wings just a little bit differently before the storm? or, alternatively: how does the topology unfold as spending lightens the metallurgic reserve?

 

overtoom
a geosophy in progress, in process: drifting, dancing, or simply matching strides. the flow is flowing, thoughtfully and yet thoughtlessly at the same instant. a relational autopiloting of ambulatory praxis emerges, bubbles umbilically folding within bubbles and so forth as the whole thing perceptually unfolds. the neighbourhood backstreets are quiet, perhaps perfect for a walking dialogue in this sense. though they also perform a sonic buffering in their neat gridlike formations, for all of a sudden the grid ends its southerly course—or more precisely opens into a closing: here the great tributary of oud-west that is overtoom bends and merges into the roaring river of the a10 ring road. vast horizontal vistas, for the most part nonexistent in the highly vertical inner core of the city, now open widely to the wide open eyes of the walker who has ceded a relative primacy to the automobiles in transit. the river appears too wide to ford, the drift comes to an abrupt halt, shockingly, as if hitting a pane of glass—but the geosophy continues.

 

elandsgracht
tempos. this is the watchword for walking in the neighbourhood of jordaan. perhaps more than the slower pace found in other inner suburbs, perhaps less than a vigorous walk along leidseplein or a dense, dreamlike stroll through kalverstraat, the main thoroughfares of jordaan offer a heterogeneous palette of fluxes to the walking subject. both residential and touristy, in this space one may walk with those struck awkward by the scenery or moving purposefully toward the daily errands—maybe chatting amiably in search of coffee or clustering in approach to the boulevard play area. a flock of segways passes anachronistically over a canal bridge, offering a new tempo to those which have already informed the city. while diagonal trajectories crisscross the street lanes or veer into local shops, the effect of this palette paints itself most pronounced within the narrow sidewalks that otherwise attempt to stream this heterogeneous mix into a consistency—not unlike the flock, or school, which passes by in the distance.

 

vondelpark
the lungs of amsterdam, both literally and figuratively, vondelpark certainly seems the most gaseous of all walking spots in the city. while well-paved bronchi weave and branch assuredly throughout the vast park as the primary conduits for multidirectional transit, it is the ability for walking-particles to become diffuse and mist out from these paths to the more vegetal alveoli that is of interest. contra the bikers, walkers and police vehicles that move along relatively predictable channels through these park-lungs, the more gaseous pedestrians are veering off on all sorts of vectors—mobile, aggregating and coming apart, informing and reforming anew. the movement of vision within this movement of gesture at vondelpark is intense: while the literal lungs of amsterdam attempt to photosynthetically restore a sort of equilibrium to the local green ecology, the figurative lungs of the city evoke an occurrent perception that affectively nudges the local machine ecology to disequilibrium and non-linear effects.

 

museumplein
a mere shell of vondelpark, the myriad trajectories of movement at museumplein form a figurative resemblance to the mistified bearings and breathings of the former, though in a somehow different way. the walkers are slower, perhaps, or maybe it is the rounded gravel underfoot that only seems to encourage stopping when one is literally arresting motion with a photographic lens. motion also arrests itself in the large lines that snake between the square and museums, constricting passage to those hygienic portals we call the global art market or cultural history. if iamsterdam in this space, then perhaps i've missed the point about this city all along—or maybe i was too busy trying to forget about the points in favour of its more fluid processes.